New Jersey's Oldest Operating General Store Gets $15,000 Grant
Mayor Murello, Schooley’s Mountain General Store Owner Peter Aldrich and Commissioner Deputy Director Krickus chatted about the history of the region outside the shop.
New Jersey’s Oldest Operating General Store Gets $15,000 Grant
Morris County Small Business Grant Aides Washington Township's historic Schooley’s Mountain General Store. The General Store, New Jersey’s oldest, continuously-operating country market, received a $15,000 Morris County Small Business Grant Program check today.
“It’s absolutely going to help. It’s going to help me get back to where I belong, get me back in the right direction and hopefully get the ball rolling again,” said Peter Aldrich, owner of the General Store since 2006.
Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director John Krickus presented the grant to Aldrich along with Washington Township Mayor Matt Murello during a visit and tour of the store, which was originally opened around 1803. Located in the heart of one of the township’s most historic areas, the store and the region has been visited by U.S. Presidents over the years, including Ulysses S. Grant, William Henry Harrison and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Owner Peter Aldrich pointed to historic photographs of Schooley’s Mountain General Store in his shop, offering bits of history about the place to Mayor Murello (left) and Commissioner Deputy Director Krickus (right).
Old photographs of the General Store through the ages adorn the old building, which has had many names, but continued to operate as a market and deli, and continues to house one of the region’s oldest Post Offices. However, Aldrich said the store struggled after the pandemic hit in 2020, was forced to close for a time and barely survived.
“Things just disappeared, like when everyone stopped going to work, my breakfast business disappeared; the evening business disappeared. We were basically surviving on our lunch business. … And we still have a ways to go,” Aldrich said.
He credited Mayor Murello for altering him to the Morris County Small Business Grant Program, which the Morris County Board of County Commissioners created on Valentine’s Day with the slogan, “Morris County Loves Small Business.” The program was developed using $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars received by the county
“We really appreciate someone like yourself hanging in there. We know it it’s been really, really tough – and we made this one of our priorities,” said Commissioner Krickus of launching the small business grant program.
“We’re really glad you applied, and congratulations,” Krickus added.
Commissioner Deputy Director Krickus (right) presented a check and letter of congratulations to Owner Peter Aldrich (center) with Mayor Murello (left).
About $2 million remains in the Morris County Small Business Program, which has provided most successful applicants the maximum $15,000 permitted in the grant program. The Commissioners continue to personally deliver some of the checks to let small business owners, as well as nonprofits know the program remains active.